Moonstone is the third birthstone for June and has been revered for thousands of years by cultures from every part of the world.
As a phenomenal gemstone, it shows a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multi-rayed star or a cat’s eye.
Few gemstones have accumulated as much lore and legend as that of moonstone.
In India, it is regarded as a sacred stone and it is widely believed to bring good fortune for those who wear it.
According to Hindu legend, this gemstone was formed from moonbeams; at one time it was believed that if you held one in your mouth during a full moon, you could see your future.
In Arab countries, women were known to sew them into their undergarments, because they were thought of as a symbol of fertility.
This gemstone is also highly prized among lovers, as it’s thought to arouse tender thoughts and passion. Those who possess moonstone are thought to be able to foretell their future life together as a couple.
Great designers of the romantic Art Nouveau era, such as René Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany, featured the pale gem in custom jewelry.
During the 1960s “flower child” movement, moonstone provided its wearers with the desired ethereal look, and designers of the 1990s New Age movement again turned to moonstone’s natural beauty for inspiration.
This gemstone’s delicate beauty and its long-established heritage make it perhaps the most familiar gem-quality member of the feldspar group.
It is a variety of the feldspar-group mineral orthoclase. It’s composed of two feldspar minerals, orthoclase and albite. At first, the two minerals are intermingled. Then, as the newly formed mineral cools, the intergrown orthoclase and albite separate into stacked, alternating layers.
When light falls between these thin, flat layers, it scatters in many directions, producing the phenomenon called adularescence. The most captivating aspect of adularescence is its appearance of motion. The misty light seems to roll across the gem’s surface as you change the viewing angle.
Moonstone typically occurs with translucent clarity. Transparent specimens are uncommon, but not unheard of. Transparent moonstone is considered most valuable. Moonstone has an attractive vitreous to pearly luster when cut and polished.
Some moonstones can exhibit chatoyancy. In the trade, these are known as ‘cat’s eye moonstone’. Other rare varieties of moonstone can occur with asterism effects. These are referred to as ‘star moonstone’. Cat’s eye and star moonstones are exceptionally rare and highly desirable.
The most important moonstone deposits are from Sri Lanka and India. Other notable sources include Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Myanmar (Burma), Madagascar, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland, Tanzania, and the United States.
Sri Lankan moonstone is most famous for its attractive blue colored material, but blue moonstone is becoming increasingly rare. India is known for producing fine ‘rainbow moonstones, while Switzerland’s Adula Mountains possess the most historically interesting moonstone mines.
Moonstone is not known to be treated or enhanced in any way, but there have been reports of bright blue moonstones being ‘coated’ for color-enhancement.
Moonstone is not very durable or hard compared to other types of jewelry gems, such as quartz, tourmaline or sapphire.
Since ordinary dust often contains quartz, simply wiping dust off your moonstone can eventually result in surface scratches. Therefore, quite a bit of care should be taken to retain the beauty of your moonstone.
Do not use any harsh chemicals or cleaners to clean your gems. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners or steamers. Simply use a mild soap and a soft cloth to clean your gemstones. Rinse well under warm water your gemstone to remove any soapy residue.
When storing your moonstone, store them separately and away from other types of gems and jewelry, whether harder or softer.
We hope this article has given you a bit more of a background on moonstone, but should you have any additional questions about this or any other jewellery related topics, you can always: “Ask the Jeweller”
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